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Global email users are expected to number 2.7 billion this year. No wonder the channel remains a favorite among marketers.

Email consistently has been a powerful outreach method through which brands (no matter their size or industry) can build strong relationships with consumers, relay important company information, and push key sales objectives and opportunities.

Moreover, email is evolving as a marketing technique in response to other digital channels, such as native advertising and social media. Nearly a third of retailers consider integrating email with other digital campaigns to be a top priority for 2016, according to The 2016 Yesmail Channel Report from Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

The report also indicates that marketers still have a great deal to learn about email marketing before they take on cross-channel integration.

Brands should focus on three key areas to prepare for future email integration opportunities. After all, 2016 is already well underway, and companies not already doing the following must adjust quickly or risk falling further behind.

1. Go Back to Basics

Before tackling any other digital outreach efforts, marketers must get back to the basics of email marketing.

Securing consumers' email addresses is something all brands should already have mastered, but many still miss out on simple opportunities to do so.

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image of Ivy Shtereva

Ivy Shtereva is senior marketing manager at Yesmail, where she is responsible for multichannel strategy and implementation across the email, database, Web, and direct marketing channels. She also authors Yesmail's quarterly benchmark reports.

LinkedIn: Ivy Shtereva